Q. What is the difference between paint or stain with regard to decks?
The difference between paint and stain can be looked at in two ways: the appearance desired from the work, and product the formulation. With a stained appearance, you are usually looking to obtain a certain color of the wood, while still seeing the grain. Thus, if you stain wood for example, you still expect to see the texture of the wood while transmitting a different color.
Deck or wood stains have three general classifications:
- semi-transparent, and
- solid color (or “opaque”).With a transparent stain, we expect to fully see the wood grain and experience it’s “natural state”.
With a semi-transparent stain applied to wood, we expect to see the wood grain and its texture, whereas with a solid color stain, the grain will be hidden while the texture will still normally be noticeable. With a painted appearance, we have created a new surface that completely hides the old surface, and has its own appearance, which is usually smooth, though textured paints are certainly used a lot.
The paint job often includes a primer coat and a finish coat, whereas the stain job will not normally have a primer, unless there is concern about excessive discoloration from tannin bleed-through Woods such as cedar and redwood).
The product formulations differ in a broad sense in that stains (especially the semi-transparent types) are less highly pigmented than are solid-color stains and paints. Most semi-transparent stains are water-based. Opaque stains are much more like paints in their pigmentation; and like paints, are available in acrylic and oil-based formulas.